I Don’t Want To

For several years, our small tribe of women met for Bible study with female inmates in our local jail. They shared their stories of abuse, drugs, tragedy, and great sorrow. We did our best to point them to Jesus, the only One who could heal their hurt and help them find lasting peace.

Since we saw some of them only once, every encounter had to be Spirit led. We did, however, develop a relationship with those who remained incarcerated for several weeks or months. It inspired all of us when we witnessed the Spirit moving in the hearts and lives of those who accepted our challenge to merely read the Bible every day. 

Occasionally, reoccurring poor choices would lead the same woman back to jail again and again. One of the ladies caught in that revolving door intrigued me more than all the others. She was exceptionally smart and well-spoken. She knew a great deal about the Scriptures. She had a winning smile, charming wit, and seemed confident without coming across as arrogant. It confounded me that she continued to make the same bad choices over and over again, knowing she would eventually suffer the consequences.

After about her third or fourth return visit, I asked her, “Why do you think you keep making the same mistakes when you know you’ll wind up back here in jail?” She leaned back in her chair as the question rolled around in her head. I stayed quiet, and finally, she leaned forward, smiled that smile of hers, and explained it this way, “It’s not that I don’t know what I should do. I know what’s right. I know all about God. It just comes down to this: I don’t want to. Period. I find pleasure in all the wrong things I do, and I don’t want to stop.”

I’ve thought about that statement a great deal over the last few weeks. I’ve come to realize that in ways much different from my inmate friend, that’s exactly why I keep making the same mistakes over and over. It’s not that I don’t know that I should put others’ interests ahead of my own. It’s not that I don’t understand how blessed it is to give rather than to receive. It’s not even that I don’t know how I should treat others. It always boils down to whether or not I want to.

Most all of us have had, are having, or will have some kind of ongoing struggle that could use a powerful dose of “want-to” injected into it. Most likely, these struggles involve other people. The author, speaker, and leadership guru John Maxwell says in his book Winning with People, “Human relations is the most important science in living.” Maxwell’s book goes on to describe the principles involved in creating and maintaining healthy, vibrant relationships. Yet, before any of those principles can be applied, we have to want to change.

I came up with a list of hard questions to help me evaluate my level of want-to:

  • Do I want to see things from another’s point of view?
  • Do I want to take the time to learn something from everyone? 
  • Do I want to listen more than I speak?
  • Do I want to love, do good, and expect nothing in return?
  • Do I want to let my closest friends see the real me?

I don’t know how you answered those questions, but for me, I’m sad to say, the answer to all of them was, “Probably not.” When it comes to relationships, it’s hard to always put others first. As much as I want to please my husband, there have been times when I just wanted things my way. With my closest friend and family members, more times than not, I wanted to talk way more than I listened. When other relationships didn’t progress the way I wanted, I rushed the process by pushing my own agenda. 

Becoming more self-aware sometimes stinks. Yet, the fragrance emitted after seeing ourselves clearly and then becoming friends with that face in the mirror blows away any stench. John Maxwell says, “You’ve got to be your own best friend first. How can you be best friends with someone you don’t even know or like?” 

When you and I look in the mirror and see our hair out of place, we don’t beat ourselves up about it. We just fix it. Neither should taking a good look at how we’ve treated people in the past throw us into a pit of shame. Realizing where we’ve gone wrong simply allows us to fix things. It provides a significantly different perspective that propels us to intentionally find value in everyone we meet and then add to it. Adding value to the lives of others blows the dirt out of our relationships, and we discover new ways to love God and His other kids. In a nutshell, we do what Paul advises in Romans 12: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:9-10 NLT)

After taking a good look in the mirror and recognizing my mistakes, I have to fix my eyes on Jesus so that He can constructively help me change the way I think and act. He injects my soul with a heavy dose of want-to. Day by day, step by step, we can all make changes that help us look more like Jesus. That’s what transformation is all about.

“I give all my thanks to God, for his mighty power has finally provided a way out through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So, if left to myself, the flesh is aligned with the law of sin, BUT NOW my renewed mind is fixed on and submitted to God’s righteous principles. So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Romans 7:25-8:1 TPT, emphasis mine)

#JohnMaxwell #WinningWithPeople

Posted in
IMG_5193

Donna Jackson

The Good Life

By Donna Jackson | September 20, 2022 |

My grandparents lived in my college town long before I became a student. They made sure that I knew their house was my home. Even though they’ve gone on to their new eternal home, being back in that town still feels like home.   Wandering from street to street wakes up sweet memories. Traveling just a…

When An Alligator Is Under Your Armpit

By Donna Jackson | September 13, 2022 |

Nine months ago, our daughter and son-in-law welcomed a five-year-old little boy from Taiwan into our tribe. He wears a perfect smile most of the time, and his eyes light up when he sees a new face. He welcomes everyone into his heart immediately. No one is allowed to be a stranger in his world…

Going Back to Kindergarten

By Donna Jackson | September 6, 2022

Year after year, a reserved spot on my fifth-grade classroom wall displayed the same laminated poster. On it were the simple, yet profound words of Robert Fulghum titled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Maybe you also remember seeing the same popular poster somewhere in your life.  After fulfilling my duty to laboriously…

We Interrupt This Program for a Special Announcement

By Donna Jackson | August 30, 2022

At 1:11 pm yesterday, our seventh grandchild arrived kicking and screaming. While I might have had time to string together a few paragraphs to craft a blog, I was much too excited to focus. I did, however, use my time to notice the goings and comings of those around me. Many young mothers wheeled by…

BREAD!

By Donna Jackson | August 23, 2022

Between church services Sunday morning I took a few minutes to do one of my favorite things – people watching. I observed men, women, and children of all ages, colors, sizes, and classes. Some men wore wrinkled sport shirts, others spiffy sport coats; some had donned long pants, others wore shorts; a few shiny wing…

Subtle Obedience

By Donna Jackson | August 16, 2022

What hints help you identify someone as a fellow believer? What causes you to inquire about someone’s faith? Are you drawn more toward people who do great public things for God or to those who work quietly behind the scenes? How might others recognize YOU as a believer? These are the questions I wrestle with;…

What Teachers Need From You

By Donna Jackson | August 9, 2022

As a first-year teacher, I soaked up every tidbit of advice my veteran cohorts floated my way. Some of it worked well for me, some of it didn’t fit my teaching style. I especially needed to hear how those master teachers conducted their parent conferences. Thankfully, I sat in on many meetings with a teacher…

Slip Sliding Away

By Donna Jackson | August 2, 2022

Maybe they just don’t see where you’re coming from. Or, maybe you’re looking at it all wrong. Maybe you’re both looking at things from totally different perspectives – from opposite ends of the spectrum. You intended to bless. They felt cursed. You see one side and they see the other. Whatever caused the rift, you’re…

One Team

By Donna Jackson | July 26, 2022

What seems like decades ago, (Oh, wait, it was decades ago.) I coached my daughter’s softball team for several seasons. I learned early on that it helped to keep a hit sheet, among other things, for each opponent. Knowing where each of their girls usually hit the ball allowed me to move my girls into…

God Was Not Surprised

By Donna Jackson | July 19, 2022

I learned the hard way that being negative can have adverse effects.  Maybe I should clarify that a smidge. My BLOOD TYPE is A negative, and apparently in 1959 hospitals could not type blood as well as they do now. After becoming anemic at age 2, I received a blood transfusion that introduced positive Rh factors…